So many inspirational people shape us into who we are. Celebrating them every so often helps us remember how far we’ve come in life, and understand the value we can offer the world.
The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day (celebrated on 8th March) is ‘Choose To Challenge’. In honour of this, I set myself the challenge of narrowing down my own list of inspirational people, to four amazing women who have changed my life – and the way I work – for the better.
My wonderful Mum
I know I’m not the only person who thinks of her Mum as someone who changed her life… especially when Mums are the very people who give us our lives in the first place!
But my Mum has always been far more than just a mother to me. She’s also my best friend, which puts her right at the top of my list.
Above all else, Mum’s exceptional values helped me understand what’s truly important in life… which is to help others as much as possible, no matter who they are.
Mum would always go out of her way to help even those people she didn’t get on with personally, and when there would be no reward for the support she was always so willing to offer, simply because that was the right thing to do.
Like most mother-and-daughter relationships, we’re very different in lots of ways, and we don’t always agree with each-other’s individual decisions. But Mum’s core values were ingrained in me, and while I’m gradually realising that I can’t help every single person I meet, if I can, then I absolutely will.
My dear Auntie Susan
When I was little, I thought Auntie Susan was the richest woman in the world!
I always saw her as my “swanky” aunt, as she lived in her own gorgeous flat in London, and was very independent and headstrong.
(She also had a fabulous walk-in shoe wardrobe… which could possibly have been where my own shoe fetish originated from.)
Sadly, Auntie Susan was diagnosed with MS when she was twenty-one, but that hasn’t stopped her from living her life to the fullest, and making every day count. It’s thanks to her that, from an early age, I saw how strong one woman could really be.
We’ve always had a very special relationship. I used to go Christmas shopping with my lovely Auntie every year, and I still have fond memories of our McDonald’s lunches, then of me running frantically beside her little scooter, with its presents piled so high she almost couldn’t see where she was going!
Even to this day, Auntie Susan’s mind is as sharp as a pin, and she always makes known exactly what she wants. I wouldn’t dream of giving her anything else.
My Nan… otherwise known as ‘Little Legs’
If you’ve read the ‘About’ page on my website, you’ll already know that my beautiful Nan is the angel that inspired My Mortgage Angel.
‘Little Legs’ is my Dad’s Mum. Our relationship was extra-special, because Nan was known not to get on as well with girls as she did boys. But right from the start, our bond was extremely close.
Nan and I cared for each-other deeply. I remember when I first got my driving licence, I would drive over to hers on Tuesday lunchtimes with fresh fish and chips… I’d take them up to her in her little flat, and we’d devour it all together over hot cups of tea.
Nan showed me that you can make the absolute most of anything life decides to throw at you, even when that happens to be dementia. She was also the first person in the UK to have two artificial hips, and two artificial knees… but that didn’t keep her from skateboarding with me as a teenager!
‘Little Legs’ was wholeheartedly determined to live the best possible life she could, and I strongly believe she’s still out there somewhere as my guardian angel, watching over me.
My first business mentor, Anna Sofat
Anna is the founder of Addidi (now part of The Progeny Group), which was a specialist financial advisory firm for women.
Until I worked with Anna, I didn’t realise that there tends to be a fundamental difference in the way that men and women think about money.
For example, women will usually ask lots of questions, drilling into the detail of exactly where their money is going, and what it’s doing. They generally want to know that if they make a profit from their investments, it’s in a sustainable way that won’t hurt others.
Anna was truly pioneering in her focus on this, understanding that female clients need a softer and more informative approach. My own job title was ‘Didi’, which is Hindi for ‘elder sister who looks after you’, and as such I spent my time taking care of our clients’ finances, making sure they got the very best from their money.
I sat next to Anna in the office, and I loved listening to the kind, supportive way she would talk to her clients. I learned from her that you didn’t need to blindside people with jargon or complicated language; rather, you could offer warmth and trust through clearly explaining the facts.
That was important because before then, I thought businesspeople needed to be brash, over-confident, and hard-headed in order to survive.
Anna also taught me the importance and value of networking, and how crucial it is to grow committed, long-term relationships with other businesspeople, rather than just quickly dropping in here, there and everywhere.
I’ve since worked hard to find the networks that are best for me – such as the Women in Business Network – and I’m very grateful that they have played such a huge part in my success.
If you’d like a clear, jargon-free explanation of your mortgage or protection situation, I’m here to help. Otherwise, I hope you find these words personally inspiring, and that they encourage you to take up the challenge for yourself on this year’s International Women’s Day.